Archive for August, 2008

White Jeans and Peanut Butter & Chocolate Ice Cream Don’t Mix

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

“‘Old Lady Grandma’ [my mother-in-law] is 9X9 years old! How old is ‘Grandma, Grandma’ [our mom]?” 7-year-old Parker asks in the course of completing his times table chart. (This task has been left to after 7 PM because he “forgot” that it was in his pocket to complete earlier today when he worked in my office on campus while I attended a meeting. Once we returned home, making noise on his new recorder easily trumped math.)

“63,” I respond.

“Oh, 9X7 years old,” says Parker.

“Right.”

Then “Mama, I’m done with my noodles,” Olivia hollers from the kitchen table, where she’s been enjoying a snack dinner of left over Panda Express Chow Mein.

“Okay,” I tell her and reluctantly leave the computer to make sure the remaining noodles make it BACK into the refrigerator. She pushes in front of me, grabs an apple her father had earmarked for pie, and bites into it before I can complete that thought. Ah, well, it’s healthy…

The rest of us had a very late snack of $1-a-scoop ice cream at Baskin Robbins. Can you believe I actually changed into “play clothes” consisting of white jeans and a blue tank top before going back out for ice cream? I LOVE white “bottoms.” This summer, it’s white denim shorts, white pencil capris, and very low rise white 5-pocket jeans. Maybe it’s a barely conscious rebellion against the “I never wear white” mama mantra. It’s a cool, sharp look that few – if any – mom’s wear. 

I’d been wearing charcoal grey silk dress pants with a charcoal grey lace top, golden yellow chunky heeled pumps, and “big” necklace, which was great – very striking. I even received a compliment from a student as I practically ran past the Registrar’s office through the first floor of our admin. building to my meeting in the Chancellor’s conference room on the top floor. But I felt HOT and STUFFY. So when we stopped at home to pick up clothes a friend needed to borrow, I changed into the white jeans, tank, and flip flops.

We stopped at my friend’s home, then Target, then Baskin Robbins. I gave each of my older a children a $1 and let them handle their own orders, which included a mind-numbing number of “tastes,” while I quickly ordered a kid’s size scoop of vanilla ice cream for Olivia and a scoop of Peanut Butter & Chocolate ice cream in a waffle cone for me. Yum! I sat down at the table, enjoyed my first lick, and “plop,” chocolate ice cream on my tank! Then Olivia, who was uncharacteristically uninterested in HER ice cream, started swinging between “my” table and “hers.” My elbow slipped and “plop” more chocolate ice cream on my pants. Focused on cool rich chocolate, intense super-thick ribbons of peanut butter, and the first hand made waffle cone I’d had in quite a while, I – and this is no joke – completely, blissfully ignored the chocolate spots on my clothes. Ask my children. ALL 4 of them made a point of telling me that I had chocolate on my tank and/or jeans! 

I’m not an idiot. Of course, I KNOW chocolate spots need to be “treated.”

In short order, we left Baskin Robbins to walk to Sports Chalet to look for a “water bottle with a strap to make it easy to carry while running.” I had to stop at the car to get my ATM card and ID. When I ducked into the car, I grabbed a “baby wipe” to clean up a bit, as well as my cards. 

And we were off.

 

 

 

Lazy, Yet Productive

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

This morning I decided to call into work sick.  I wasn’t exactly sick, but if I actually had to walk into our Tuesday morning sales meeting,  I would have become deathly ill…

So, the game plan for the day was to look for a new gig so I don’t have to sell radio advertising anymore, and catch up on unfinished business around the house.

It was so nice taking a long walk with Sam this morning.  I was able to sleep in until 6:10 am and start our walk with the sun shining (though I would have preferred to run if my hip was up to par).  Walking along the trail with no sense of urgency was fantastic.  We walked up on a different part of the trail this time – note, according to the Dog Whisperer you should walk dogs using different routes because it keeps them from getting bored.  The higher part of the trail turned out to be great.  I was able to see the backyards of the homes I pass by every morning, Sam was able to get a glimpse of some horses while almost stepping in a fair share of horse poo. Best of all, we did not encounter any other walkers with thier dogs.  It was a peaceful walk with no interruptions.

Since I was in no hurry this morning, I was able to water the garden, feed Sammy, stretch, make oatmeal and sip on coffee.  Most of these ventures can be done on a normal workday except for the oatmeal and the sipping of coffee- it’s usually a bar in hand a coffee to go, a quick watering of the garden, a quicker stretch and feeding, usually ending with me yelling at two dogs to go potty so I can make it to work almost on time.  I rush out the door, hair sopping wet and something left behind on the table.  Today was nice.

So, when I finished up my breakfast, I made my way to the clutter filled office.  Piles of un-open mail had formed to create what seemed a day’s work of organizing.  I decided to tackle this project on my own, though Maz is a great shredder.  It was amazing.  As I went through pile after pile, I could see progress, knowing that within a short matter of time I would be able to vacuum.  With Sam sleeping by my side, I cleared the room of all the piles, I shredded all the useless credit card offers, and the office was once again an office.  There are still two piles though – one for me to file and one for Maz. I can’t finish everything in one day.

My next project is job/career hunting. It was quick. Colorado Springs isn’t exactly a great place to find the career or job of your dreams.  There are lots in Denver, Boston, New York and even Santa Barbara.  I always look at other cities when exploring career opportunities on Craigslist.com.  I am beginning a more extensive career search now… 

I will keep you posted on my efforts.

First Days of School

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

My eldest child, Quentin, started high school Tuesday; his younger sister, Reiley, started middle school today. And all I could think was “Some things never change.”

Quentin IS young – he just turned 13 this month! Still, I didn’t expect tears on his first day of school. He attends what his father fondly refers to as “hippy high school” half a day two days a week, completing his remaining course work “at home.” When I left Quentin in his first class – “second period,” visual arts – he had tears in his eyes as he reluctantly squeezed my hand to “say” good bye.

I found myself as much annoyed as heartbroken, not to mention confused. After an intense “high school prep” eighth grade program, Quentin understandably wanted to be entirely home schooled this year. I wanted to agree; I could even empathize with his desire to “hang out at home, re-do algebra (his only weak subject to date), and read Star Wars books; but I just couldn’t let him make that mistake. If only he could have presented a better “plan” for using his extended time at home – oh, I don’t know, write a symphony, build a hydrogen powered car, organize a book drive for underprivileged children…something! – I could have been convinced. 

Under the circumstances, I expect a sense of betrayal is right up there with separation anxiety and fear among the reasons for Quentin’s tears this time.  

I’m sure garden variety attachment issues were responsible for Quentin’s tears 11 years ago when he entered pre-school. Quentin cried EVERY morning for TWO YEARS! Whoever took Quentin to school had to allow time to walk around class, perhaps look at one of his drawings on the wall, find a book and settle in for a “speed” read before leaving him in the teachers lap and slipping swiftly, silently out the door. Yes, I’m sure Quentin was “fine” once we left (and his teachers always assured us this was the case). His dad counted on that when he HAD to drop Quentin and “run.” I just couldn’t do it.  Consequently, our extended drop-off routine took so long one morning that I ended up “stranded” with the class in the “sand box” during a fire drill because the doors out of the place were electronically sealed. 

Leaving Quentin’s little sister at school was nowhere near as gratifying – in the sick way only a parent can truly understand. On HER first day of pre-school, Reiley let go of my hand and ran into class, hardly taking the time to wave back at me over her shoulder. She NEVER cried at school. 

Today was no different. Reiley had her back-pack organized and her clothes laid out before she went to bed last night and our household “sleepy head” was up AND dressed before breakfast was even on the table this morning. This isn’t to say that Reiley isn’t apprehensive and, like her big brother, unsure about entering a more “structured” learning environment than our kitchen table has provided her. (Reiley’s Mosaic program is three full days a week with two days left open to engage in “individual, artistic” projects.) Rather, Reiley doesn’t seem to let her uneasiness get the best of her. 

Her dad called after he left Reiley at school to tell me that he had to “drop” her off because there was nowhere to park that didn’t require a longer walk to class than he had time for. I asked him if she was okay with that, and he said “I think so. She just got out of the truck, and said ‘good bye,’ before disappearing down the stairs into the school reception area. Note, when I picked Reiley up this afternoon, she said NOTHING about this abrupt start to her first day in middle school.

When I asked Reiley how school was today, she simply said, “Good.” Then she rattled on – in excruciating detail – about her day…her teachers, her classes, that she’s going to do “sets” and “costumes” in the school play, three girls she knows from last year, her “eighth grade” history book, pre-algebra, and “sixth-grade” grammar, and the fact that there was no mayonnaise on her sandwich!

I couldn’t help thinking about the time Reiley milked a cow at UC Davis’s “Picnic Day,” an annual campus wide open house and reunion. Both children stood in line with us, looking increasingly terrified as we moved closer to the cow. When it was Quentin’s turn, he backed away and, I think, hid behind his father. Meanwhile, Reiley walked – very slowly – toward the cow with her arms plastered to her sides. Looking scared enough to puke, she let a student help her to squat practically UNDER the cow and guide her hand up and around cow’s teat. Reiley squeezed and then simultaneously let go and jumped back, nearly tripping. She was grinning, literally, ear to ear.

Indeed, some things never change.

 

 

“Just in Time” Baby Shower

Monday, August 18th, 2008

Our newest niece – Melanie Irina – arrived this morning, weighing in at a whopping 3 lbs., 11 oz. Word is that Miss Melanie and her parents are doing well. Melanie’s baby shower was yesterday!

Melanie’s proud parents (to be, at the time) left the shower at my home in Riverside, CA “late” – I’m thinking 7 PM – ish – and Stephanie’s water broke just after midnight, so all those new diapers and sleepers and receiving blankets and onesies made it home just in time. Considering the back-to-school, last-chance-for-vacation, birthday party (I already have a son, two nieces and nephew, three cousins, and a 1/2 dozen other friends and relatives with August birthdays) rush that is August in our family, getting the shower date on the calendar alone was a minor miracle. It hinged on rescheduling another event and my sister Jeanna taking an early morning flight home from No. California on less than five hours of sleep following her second wedding for the month. 

Jeanna and I headed up the baby shower committee, with Francine (another sister) in charge of games. Saturday night when I fell asleep during our family night movie, the only item crossed off the list was “games.” Three games, three gifts. Check The plan was for me to pick Jeanna up at the airport and hit Costco and Party City on the way home; meanwhile, my children, under the leadership of their dad, would be quick-cleaning the house and straightening up the back yard. My spouse – the master organizer – was aghast. He honestly did not believe we could pull it off, and fully expected to be the only one at home as the guests arrived to a messy house, no food, and missing hostesses. He actually asked me to promise NOT to go to Costco and Party City by way of Nordstrom Rack at Ontario Mills!

Our plan went off without a hitch. I woke up early, went for a run, and – protein shake and bag of granola in hand – was on the way to the airport by 8:40 AM when Jeanna texted to tell me she’d just landed. We were blessed by NO TRAFFIC on the 91 or 15 freeways and I made it to the Ontario airport in record time. After picking up Jeanna and making a quick stop at Starbucks, we were among the first in line when Costco opened. We made a whirlwind tour of that cavernous warehouse, beginning with the bakery, where we selected a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and a yellow stork and ordered “welcome baby Melanie” for the cake top greeting. After loading the cart with crackers, dip, fruit, veggies, etc., we picked up the cake, grabbed some flowers (in lieu of pink streamers and balloons), paid, and we were off. Food and decorations. Check.

Despite my loving spouse’s worries, the house and yard were clean when we arrived. House cleaned. Check. We unloaded and then I stretched, showered, and dressed while Jeanna rested. I think she also made a quick trip out for more food and drinks after someone called to let us know that we MIGHT have six to ten MORE guests. Yikes.

By the time my mom and sister – “game mistress” Francine – called for the code to the gate at about 1:30 PM, we were ready to go. And then we waited…

Apparently, we really lucked out. The 91 toll road was closed and the freeway itself was backed up by noon. Other than my mom and Francine, our guests did not begin to arrive until just before 3:00 PM. Our final guests “of honor,” Jeff and Stephanie, did not leave until around 7:00 PM. Twelve hours later, we heard that Stephanie was in labor.

And now, a new niece! Welcome, Melanie. 

 

The Dammers and Me

Sunday, August 17th, 2008

As I was sitting here thinking about what to blog about, Maz suggested I talk about Dammers and me…

The last couple of mornings when I have been out running I have run into the usual people on my route. I see the lonely guy at the bus stop, the couple walking their two well behaved older dogs on the bike trail, the older guy wearing the Air Force Academy hat and the middle aged lady walking her sheltie.  We always do the “nod” or just say “morning” as we pass each other.  I am usually holding back The Dammers from making new friends or doing her own impression of the “nod” or the “morning.” But this past week, my morning “friends” were asking me, “Where  is the Dammers …?”

The Dammers, aka Sammy, is a 1 1/2 year old Lab/Vizla mix so her energy goes above and beyond the normal dog.  I usually don’t mind her energy level because she keeps me going.  I like to think she is training for a marathon along with me, plus she helps me with the hills…I just wish she would PAY ATTENTION to what she is doing.

Last Saturday I noticed she wasn’t on her “A” game.  The Dammers sometimes runs into things (fences, trees, houses, etc.) or stops in front of me so I trip over her or she just plain slips.

I was cleaning the house with the back door open when I heard a “yelp,” then the Dammers came running in the house full of mud and only using three of her legs.  Yep, that’s right, she slipped in the mud running along the fence and now she is down for the count. This happens about every six weeks. I think she has hurt both of her back legs at least once and her front paws quite a few times.

I have grown to depend on her as my push in the morning. She has come in handy on the days I want to just roll over, and on days I want to blame the weather- too hot, too cold and – my favorite – too windy to go out.  But when I wake up to a brown nose watching my every move at 5:15 am, how can I ignore it?  I always make my way out of bed and out the door.  Sometimes we run and sometimes we walk and I know she fully appreciates it all. 

This past week she has done her job waking me up and it has taken everything I have to leave the house without her in tow.  Hopefully she will be all well next week and back on the road for at least another 6 weeks!  

Airport Blues

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

My daughter, Reiley, and I arrived home in Riverside, CA Monday morning at midnight (PST) a full 16 hours after leaving our hotel in Hadley, MA (EST). After a picnic breakfast beside the Mill River in Northampton and short walking tour of Smith College, we headed South to Bradley International Airport, via Target in Windsor Locks, CT – for gum and snacks – returned our rental car, and boarded the shuttle for the airport. We were checked in, through security, and sitting at the gate a FULL HOUR before our plane was scheduled to board – a record making moment, considering it was THE earliest I have EVER been at the airport before departure.

And it started to rain…and pour…and our flight was delayed one and a half hours!! The sky was gray; I was “blue.” Just when I was beginning to think that MAYBE it was possible to live in New England, which is gorgeous this time of year into fall, that MAYBE I could tolerate, if not ever love, winter, the summers and falls and clear skies and slower pace would be worth it – I was hit with reality. RAIN. Even in summer, the weather holds the potential to destroy plans (I really wanted to get back home) and confine one indoors (did I mention we could not find anywhere in the place that didn’t feel as if it was right under/over an air conditioner on “max”?).

Schnooz...While Reiley made every effort to fill the memory card in our new camera  - the short story is that I seem to collect cameras, rather than t-shirts or thimbles, from the places I visit – with a collection I’ve called “meditation on raindrops hitting the tarmac” – I curled up to create and sustain warmth, laid my head on our pile of carry on luggage (thanks to school shopping in Boston and my refusal to pay for an extra suitcase), and fell asleep.

 

 

 

\I woke up to hear that our flight was cancelled; an hour later, we were “delayed” again, with no estimated time of departure. At this point, all but half an hour of our layover in in Newark had been consumed, it was time to act. I left Reiley in the bookstore with a steamed vanilla-carmel milk and a pile of teen magazines to watch our “stuff,” while I stood in a VERY LONG line to see what I could do about getting on ANY FLIGHT West bound. How did I know that practically EVERY Continental flight Sunday afternoon was being routed through Newark or some such place? The best I could do was first class on the NEXT flight to San Diego from Newark. Reiley was thrilled. All I could think about was driving home at what would be 2 AM for us. Ugh!

Half an hour later, we were fighting for a space in line to board. A very confusing moment. Finally, our flight began boarding, precisely when the NEXT flight to Newark was due to leave. The poor flight attendants at the gate had to contend with twice as many passengers as our tiny prop plane could hold, all righteously demanding a seat. It was OUR plane, though, so we got to go.

We arrived in Newark with four minutes to spare before our scheduled connection was due to END boarding. I took Reiley’s bags – including a fetching zebra-striped backpack – and ordered her to RUN the 26 gates between where we were and where we were scheduled to board. She made it just as the doors closed, yet persisted in making her case than I and at least two other women were on the way. They opened the gate, we ran down the ramp, and boarded…only to find out a few minutes later that we would be sitting for approximately two hours in line to take off!! I could have screamed.

By some miracle of fate, or a lucky rabbit’s foot, we were moved to number seven in line to leave and made up lost time as we zoomed West. (This is called “speeding,” my dear spouse tells me.) We arrived earlier than scheduled. Ah…Even our bags made the flight!

My sister, Jeanna, picked us up from the airport and deposited us at my car, which was parked about half way home. Just before midnight, we pulled into the garage. Without bothering to unload, we dragged ourselves into the house, up the stairs, and into bed. 

Writing Reiley and Running in the Rain

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

Yesterday evening after dinner, I received a text from my 11-year-old daughter, Reiley, who is staying with her grandmother in Ayer, MA while I attend a summer session on contemplative pedagogy at Smith College in Northampton, MA. “Hi. What r u doing?” she wanted to know.

“Just finished dinner. Going to a jazz concert n a bit,” I replied.

“When did you have dinner last night?” she wanted to know next.

“Same time,” I texted back.

There was a pause before my phone vibrated again. “But u had dinner at 10 PM last night,” she wrote this time.

“O yeah. I missed dinner. 8 l8r @ brewery,” I replied.

Today when I woke up at 6:30 AM, there was a text message from Reiley waiting. I’d received it at 4:00. “R u up?” she asked. 

Thinking she’s crazy, I texted back, “I am now, but I wasn’t at 4:00 AM.”

“I wasn’t up then,” she responded.

“Your text arrived at 4:00 AM,” I pointed out.

“O. I woke up at 6:00 AM,” she texted, ending our “chat.”

After lunch, I talked to Reiley’s dad (via cell phone), and he wanted to know if I’d heard from Reiley. ”Just texts early this morning,” I told him.

“Oh,” he said – smuggly, I might add – “she CALLED me; she said you NEVER  pick up the phone.”

I looked and, sure enough, there was ONE missed call from Reiley…while I was in class. I returned the call, and SHE didn’t pick up the phone. So I left her a text message: “Going for a run. Will call AGAIN when I ret.”

I’m just back from my run – about five miles around and around and around the college, the final lap in a thunder storm. Felt really good, actually. After last night’s deluge, it’s been cloudy and cool, yet still “sticky.” The rain was refreshing, cleansing…I’m just about ready for another go ’round with Reiley.

Is Hydration Worth It?

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

So, my sisters and I have been trying to figure out how to stay hydrated during our runs.  None of us want to carry anything; we just don’t do that well. We have found solutions to carrying most things - skorts with the pocket to hold our phones and band-aids, and a band around our arm to hold our ipods. There just doesn’t seem to be room for any form of hydration.

We thought about holding a water bottle but after 1/4 of a mile, the water bottle found the ground.  We thought about a Camelback, but I get rash from mine when I am just hiking.  We thought about mapping out our runs so we can place water accordingly the night before – you really have to be prepared for that one, and because the “prepared” gene skipped us, that idea is out.  I even tried to map my runs to exert the least amount of energy so I wouldn’t need water.

If we weren’t training for a marathon, then this wouldn’t be an issue but since we are finding ourselves running eight miles and more a day we need liquids.  I honestly thought I would be able to tough it out- I definitely did not want to be one of those runners with 1/2 a dozen items hanging off their body.  Well, today I became on of those runners- kind of.

I picked up an Amphipod; it’s a full tilt velocity water bottle and BELT!  The belt goes around the waist and the water bottle lays laterally across the back. There is an expanding zipper pouch that allows enough room for a phone, band-aid, aspirin and whatever else is needed.  The water bottle is secure on the belt and seems comfy when trying it on.  I read the reviews so I knew that I should wear it high at the waist so it stays in place.  The reviews also said that there is NO bounce…

First of all, I spent the first ten minutes of my run trying to figure out the stupid thing.  The bounce was there fully alive at 5:30 AM. I put the belt up higher, but it still moved. I tightened the belt, but it continued to move upward- it was driving me crazy. If I hadn’t just paid $30 for this, I would have left it behind.  Anyway, I continued- it had to get better, so I thought- but it didn’t. I kept feeling the water bottle on my back.  Finally, while waiting at a stop light, I reajusted.  I decided the high waisted option is out, so I moved the belt down to my hips – much easier to tighten and so I continued (after a refreshing sip of my gatorade, of course).  Much, much better - not the best, definitely not great, but better.

As I finished out my run, I realized the water bottle on my back felt like having a sweatshirt around my waist without having any fabric flapping against my legs and not having to worry about retying the sweatshirt. I think my back may have gotten a little numb though.

Overall, the water bottle thing sucks, BUT there really isn’t anything better than hydrating yourself during a long run.  I definitely felt a difference in my energy level!  I don’t know what is worse- craving water and losing energy during a run OR having something connected to your waist that bounces!

Running, NOT Training

Monday, August 4th, 2008

Just back from THE MOST RELAXING run I have had in months. I am attending a summer session on contemplative practices in higher education at Smith College in Northampton, MA and fittingly DID NOT bring my Nike+ running shoes or sensor. (For the uninitiated, the sensor communicates with my ipod to let me know just how far and how fast I’m going at any given moment during my run and calculates my average pace for my current workout as well as for my entire recorded series of workouts.) Of course, the absence of that little Nike “voice in my head,” was a good start to a mindful, and ultimately relaxing run. The remarkable part is that, even though I was in an entirely NEW place without a clue in the world where I was going, I DID NOT get lost!!

Chapin House, Smith CollegeAlthough I usually run in the morning – both because that’s the only way to beat the heat and smog in Riverside, CA, and because if I don’t do it then, there’s a very good chance it’s just not going to happen. But here…with classes beginning at 8:30 AM (5:30 AM at home on the West coast), there is just no way. I almost wrote running off today because it was kind of hot…but I’m glad I didn’t. I left Chapin House, the dorm near what is nearly the middle of campus where we are staying, with a fairly clear idea of how to run around the campus and managed that.

 

Mill River from bridge, Smith CollegeHurray! It just took me about 20 minutes, which didn’t seem like much, so I followed this trail along the Mill River off campus and into town. I passed older, wizened folk and families and a group of teen-age boys (I know this because, though they looked about 12, they were talking about getting their drivers permits later this week), as well as A LOT of dogs. It was cool in the trees – maple and oak and others I recognized from AGES AGO when we lived in upstate New York – and, unless I was actually passing someone whose conversation I couldn’t help but over hear, there was just the sound of the river running over rocks.

The trail ended in a suburban neighborhood, NOT somewhere on campus, which is what I had expected. So I just continued running until I saw an older gentleman I’d passed earlier along the river (not exactly sure how I could pass him again…there must be a short-cut somewhere…). I asked him the way back to Smith and – get this – I was maybe a block from the main route that leads to College Lane, where Chapin House is. How’s that for a miracle, considering my directional challenges?!

I ran right back onto campus, passed Buddha’s garden, and headed up through part of the campus botanic gardens. So many flowers! I nearly stopped to pick up a trail guide, but just before I opened the “mail” box to take one, I noticed I was standing under a ginkgo biloga tree – huge, gorgeous, fan-shaped leaves. I don’t think I’ve seen one like it since leaving New York.

Yeah, there for a minute, I was able to recall some things about that state that I liked. In addition to fall, which I LOVED, I could run any time of day – except during the EIGHT MONTHS OF WINTER when it was snowing…